Your company likely has a data strategy, a cloud strategy, and a general business strategy. You might view these as separate, but in the most successful businesses, all three are aligned. By embracing an integrated and comprehensive approach—a cloud and big data business strategy—you can set your company up for success.
Data is the lifeblood of business. It has become as important as the products you create and the customer relationships you build. Data has transformed into the most valuable corporate asset that must be nurtured, harnessed for return on equity (ROE) while being both self-service and protected.
Your big data business strategy must account for the volume and variety of data, and plan how to manage data throughout its entire life cycle. Data once lived only within a business’s four walls, but now some or much of your data is being created outside the corporate firewall and outside of your control. Your big data business strategy must now outline how to access and leverage the data that’s all around us. This requires new thinking and new strategies.
Every business is a data business, even those that seem far removed from data technologies. For example, the average person probably doesn’t think data plays a role in farming. But these days, harvesting data is just as important as harvesting crops. Today’s farmers use sensors to detect water levels, growth rates, and yields. They pair machine data with real-time weather information and forecasts.
Like farming, manufacturing is making gains in its use of big data. Manufacturers use sensors to detect when machines might need maintenance. Smart manufacturing includes quality control data, but it also includes data on customer engagement and product usability to be embedded in future product development.
Cities can also connect disparate data sources to improve residents’ lives. This is done through real-time traffic and public transit information, power plant outputs, water supply demands, waste management, and any number of other data sources that are involved in running a city.
Once, businesses only considered data helpful on the back end—as a tool for cost-cutting or quality improvements—but data can now be used on the front end as well. Businesses must take advantage of real-time data sources that reveal how customers are using their products. With a smarter big data business strategy, you can change products on the fly, and deliver a better user and customer experience.
It used to be that a business’s data was contained in on-premises data centers. But with the onset of connected devices and new data types, that is changing. The cloud is more relevant now because more data types live outside the data center, and some exist only in the cloud.
With cloud technologies, there are so many opportunities that were never available before: Cloud offers IT and business agility, few upfront costs, lower capital expenses, and the ability to test massive amounts of data without the need to invest in physical data-center hardware. These features allow you to experiment, discover, and create new use cases, while also allowing unlimited scalability and elasticity.
It used to be easy to secure the perimeter of a business. When new employees joined the company, they gained access only to information they needed to do their jobs. Data was contained, and limits were set on who or what needed access to that data, and the data was contained within the firewall for protection. New front line data applications require lots of freedom to connect disparate sources, so data lineage and governance take on an entirely new complexion. And with the cloud, there’s even more freedom to connect disparate data sources and apply insights to new use cases. It can be difficult to know who should connect to that data or who is equipped to uncover those new uses. This makes governance, encryption, and rights management even more important, as an increasing number of users can access raw data. It’s essential to tie your data strategy to your cloud strategy, so that you enable an underlying design architecture that builds connectivity while still enforcing corporate governance requirements and regulations.
Successful businesses understand how interconnected data and cloud strategies are key to a cohesive business strategy. These three areas are inextricably linked.
A services platform that enables businesses to discover, manage, and govern their data across hybrid environments is essential to implementing an integrated strategy for your business. Additionally, tools that allow your chief data officer and data steward to deliver consistent security and governance across all your data assets and repositories will give your business a real competitive advantage.
With tools like these, you can derive the maximum value from your data and cloud strategies, which are ultimately linked to your overall business strategy. The result? Better outcomes for your customers and for your business.
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